In the Blink of an Eye


Beginning a journey later this morning, actually and metaphorically. On my mind at the moment: 


Just shy of twenty-four years. That’s how long my wife and I have been responsible for the daily needs first of two children and then, for the past five years, of one. All that ends this week. Would I start over at the beginning, if somehow I were given the choice? Hell no. And, yes, of course I would.


In a dream just now, I found myself on an interstate highway, its several lanes chock full of people not in cars and trucks but crawling over the concrete. A dream about being a parent, I think. We are compelled to move forward ceaselessly and arduously. I don’t begrudge the “arduously.” But I resent the “ceaselessly.” Some things pass too quickly.


If you’re a parent, to what do you aspire, with respect to your thoughts and feelings about it all? Where do you want to end up, on a day like this? I have no idea. It’s all too complicated. Within a handful of years, some of us go from being mere children ourselves to being parents of our own children. We get off one roller coaster, still a bit loopy, and then we climb on another. Thinking is probably a bridge too far. As for feeling, I guess you’re bound to have at least a little of a whole lot of those. At the moment, gratitude is pretty high on my list.




Here’s an email I sent to my family in September 1995. My older son was just turning five, and my younger one would arrive two months later:


It’s cool here this morning, and wonderfully quiet. Our front windows face east and welcome the morning sun. A long stripe of sunlight races across the floor of T’s bedroom, through the small hall outside my study, and then straight up the back wall of the house. No sign yet of the squirrel who sits on my window ledge and keeps me company throughout the day. A sociable fellow.


J is at her office, “cleaning up” her phone mail. She’s talking to herself as she listens to message number twenty-three: “You’re crazy. That’s nonsense.” Then — beep, beep — she pushes a button and leaves a response for person number twenty-three: “Bob, that’s an interesting possibility, and we can discuss it at the next partners’ meeting.” Then number twenty-four: “You’re out of your mind.” And so on.


T has again this morning as every morning moved comfortably from his home, where he is, for a few weeks more, the center of all love and attention, to his school, where he is just one part of a larger group, of a rather serious if still enjoyable enterprise. He seems to think that this daily transition is the most natural thing. He sits in a circle, legs crossed, as his teachers ask their students to talk about — what? Respect, or trees, or puppets.


And I have a few moments more before I must plunge back into Massimo Brutti’s La problematica del dolo processuale nell’esperienza romana, to learn why he thinks that the importance of individual autonomy and freedom of will in the act of contracting are modern notions superimposed, anachronistically, upon Roman law by everyone from the glossators and commentators of the Middle Ages to Romanists of this century.


Cool and quiet. The gardenias on the porch turn, so slowly, to face the sun. Time stretches out: every day, every hour a new possibility. In the blink of an eye, though — time being a tricky thing — it’ll be 5:00 and time to go get T, and then J will be home from work, and and and.


In two blinks? A will arrive. And so new possibilities, the creation with his birth of a new and separate world, with standing invitations to all extraterrestrials to come, to explore, to visit a while.


A’s world. T’s world. J’s world. My world.


Aha, here’s my squirrel, and here I come, Massimo.


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